By Kerstin Buechner, Director QP Savills

Market Report 2021

2020 was as unexpected as it was unprecedented.

It has been a very difficult year for people around the world. Many have suffered terrible losses, battled the virus, and struggled to keep businesses above water. The vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel but as we write this in early 2021 for many it’s a small light and the tunnel long.

The local property market is certainly not immune and has experienced shifts in what people are looking for, how people buy property, and importantly how much they are willing to invest. Surprisingly, these shifts were not all negative. The lower and middle markets have suffered. The level of demand decreased as people’s financial situation made investing in property more difficult and even if they still could and would invest, the travel restrictions made viewing properties only possible virtually. And as the levels of transactions reduced so did prices and what vendors might accept.

The top of the market has proven to be a little more resilient to market influences and we can report an increase in enquiries, transactions, and property values.

The first change we all felt was the lockdown in March 2020 and spending a great deal more time at home. But in fact, what we have seen is possibly only an acceleration of trends that were predicted and already happening. The way we live, work, and play all changed but many of these changes were already happening in slow motion in the years running up to 2020.

Working from home 10 to 15 years ago was still quite rare. As commuting became more time consuming and costly, not only the way we work but live and play over the past 5 years, all moved more and more online. 2020 only made more of us look more closely at the possibility of working from home and gave us the extra push, or should we call it a shove, to making working at home a real possibility.

Spending more time at home then made us look more closely at the properties we live in and many decided that how and where they lived could be improved. No longer do most of us need to live within commuter distance to cities and, according to our Savills colleagues in the UK, there has been a lot of talk about the increase in London based buyers moving to the country, whether purchasing a main residence or second home. Their buyer and seller survey from 2020 revealed that 48% of respondents now find a village location more attractive and 53% think a countryside location is more attractive than pre-COVID-19. These figures increase to 54% and 57%, respectively, for respondents with school-age children, suggesting that families may be more likely to be considering a move out of the capital.

Homeworking also looks set to become a long-term phenomenon, over half (56%) of respondents said they are more inclined to work from home more and this suggests they would be willing to accept a longer commute.

Analysing Savills properties that have exchanged in recent years shows a strong uptick in London buyers, as a proportion of all buyers. In the market above £2m, where London-based buyers have always been more prevalent, they accounted for 39% of buyers last year, an increase from their previous 5-year average of 29%.

Unexpected average sales value hike in 2020

Between 2012 and 2014 the average sales price was 1.45m. In 2018 and 2019 it was 1.8m and in 2020 it climbed to 2.3m. At QP Savills, we saw a 67% increase in enquiries, the average sales price jump from Euro 1.8m to 2.3m, and a total sales volume increase of 15% to Euro 169.7m.

In Portugal, we have also felt the effect of this trend. Enquires were up and so were the number of sales. 2019 was an extraordinary year at the top end of the property market. If we had had another year like it in 2020 we would have been delighted. The fact is, 2020 turned out to be even better. As soon as we were released from lockdown, and after a few months of no sales, the pent-up demand was unleashed, and it was all hands on deck at QP. Statistics at the end of 2020 show that enquires were up 67% on 2019.

Looking a little closer we can see why. Historically our buyers have been predominantly interested in holiday homes. Over the past year, we have seen many more enquiries from buyers wishing to establish Residency in Portugal. We see that this was spurred on not only by a relatively safe and healthy environment the Algarve represented in terms of lifestyle and the desire to work from a home in Portugal, but also by the fact that many Brits were keen to reserve themselves the right to travel to and stay as long as they liked in Portugal; a right they would otherwise post Brexit no longer have.

What was also unexpected was the average sales value hike in 2020. Between 2012 and 2014 the average sales price was 1.45m. In 2018 and 2019 it was 1.8m and in 2020 it climbed to 2.3m.

The purchase of a holiday home or a permanent or semi-permanent home are two very different projects. Not least of all with regard to the amount people might be willing to spend on each. It is clear to see that our enquiries came in with bigger budgets and from people looking for exceptional properties in which they were planning to spend more time. And as a result, they were often on the search for bigger, better homes and better locations. And, many of our existing property owners also came to the conclusion that they wanted to spend more time in the Algarve and also wanted a better property. This stimulated the top end of the property market beyond all expectations. So much so that there was more demand than supply and consequently a noticeable hike in property values.

Price tags for private villas within Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo of between Euro 6 to 8m have become quite normal over recent years. Over the past 2 years, more and more exceptional properties have achieved sales prices of over Euro 10m and Euro 18.000 per square meter. This is an important milestone for the country’s property market and represents values not seen before nationally. Top values, standards of construction and design which are able to compete with the best in the world.

Another development we observed in 2020 is that historically buyers have come out to view properties 2 or 3 times before deciding which property was right for them. This changed in 2020. With the British losing some of their travel freedom within the EU at the end of 2020 and the increased amount of transactions taking place, buyers were more motivated to make faster decisions or face losing out on some of their top choices. It was quite common that multi-million Euro properties were bought upon a single viewing.

Our sales team has had to adapt. Virtual tours and dealing with our clients online soon became the norm. But not only that, while our enquiries are still predominantly from the UK, there is a substantial increase in the number of other nationalities coming to the central Algarve. We have grown the team to over 20 not only to be able to cope and maintain the level of service we provide but to also introduce more languages into the sales force. Inquires of French and Spanish is up 20% and no longer are these buyers looking to invest between Euro 500k to 750k, they too are looking to relocate to Portugal and are also in search of top properties.

And money has never been cheaper. Helping more buyers to buy and buy bigger, local banks are offering incredibly good rates. Buyers across all budgets are borrowing more frequently to buy. In years gone by, we would possibly have a buyer a year who purchased with a mortgage. Today we estimate that up to 25% of our buyers are borrowing. Interest rates are low and this has also allowed people to invest in properties with slightly higher price tags. Millennium BCP are lending up to 80% with interest rates of between 1.1 and 1.5%.

GOLDEN VISA

On 22 December 2020, an amendment to the Golden Visa was approved by the Government, where the changes would go into effect as from 1 July 2021. However, a set of adjusted rules were approved on 12 February 2021, postponing start of the changes to 1 January 2022.

Established in 2012, the Golden Visa Program aims to attract foreign investors to reside and invest in Portugal. Once in possession of a “GV”, investors are allowed to travel within the Schengen area without the need for a visa. The investor can also then apply to extend the residency to their immediate family members. Until the end of 2020, the total investment generated by the GV scheme was a jaw-dropping EUR 5.6 billion, of which 5.09 billion went directly into the Portuguese real estate market.

How to qualify for a Golden Visa in Portugal?

To qualify for a Golden Visa, the applicant must meet at least one of the following conditions, under the current and future rules (specific thresholds apply to low density territories):

 

Investment types

Eligible investments

Current rules (applicable up to 31 December, 2021)

Applicable as from 1st January, 2022

Capital transfers

Transfer of capital

EUR 1 million

EUR 1.5 million

Investment into research by scientific institutions integrated into the national scientific and technological system

EUR 350,000

EUR 500,000

Investment into or supporting artistic production or the recovery and maintenance of national cultural heritage

EUR 250,000

Acquisition of shares in investment funds or venture capital funds dedicated to the capitalization of companies incorporated under Portuguese law, under certain requirements

EUR 350,000

EUR 500,000

Subscription of share capital in a commercial company with a head office in Portugal, combined with the creation of 5 permanent jobs for a minimum of 3 years

EUR 350,000

EUR 500,000

Real Estate investments

Acquisition of residential property (including vacant building plots)

EUR 500,000

EUR 500,000 (only applicable in the interior of Portugal, as defined, as well as in Azores and Madeira)*

Acquisition of non-residential property (e.g., properties licensed for touristic purposes)

EUR 500,000

 

Acquisition of residential real estate in Portugal where construction was completed 30 years prior or is located in an urban regeneration area, with the implementation of renovation works

EUR 350,000

EUR 350,000 (only applicable in the interior of Portugal, as defined, as well as in Azores and Madeira)*

Acquisition of non-residential real estate in Portugal where construction was completed 30 years prior or is located in an urban regeneration area, with the implementation of renovation works

EUR 350,000

EUR 350,000 (only applicable in the interior of Portugal, as defined, as well as in Azores and Madeira)*

Creation of jobs

Creation of permanent job positions in Portugal

10 jobs

 

* In the Algarve, eligible residential investments will be limited to the municipalities of Alcoutim, Aljezur, Castro Marim, Monchique and Vila do Bispo. For the municipality of Loulé, the investments will be limited to the parishes of Alte, Ameixial, Salir, Querença, Tôr and Benafim.

Once issued, the Golden Visa is valid for an initial 1-year period, which should be renewed every subsequent 2 years. The investor will need to provide proof that they have remained in Portugal for a minimum of:

• 7 consecutive or staggered days in the first year

• 14 consecutive or staggered days in the subsequent 2-year period

 

W Residences Algarve

The Fastest Selling Branded Residences in Europe

Exclusively for sale by QP Savills

Sales started well from the start in early summer 2019. In the meantime, over half of the units have been sold in record time. The W Residences is attracting a new and very international group of buyers to the coast. We have seen enquiries come from around the globe but the highest proportion of buyers are from the United Kingdom.

W Hotels Worldwide, part of Marriott International, is about to open W Algarve. Developed by Nozul Algarve, S.A., this vibrant oasis overlooks the breathtaking coastline and the Atlantic. We are delighted to have been chosen as exclusive Master Agents to manage the sale of 83 oceanfront apartments, all with access to the W 5-star hotel facilities and to announce that they are now 50% sold out.

Owners will enjoy ultimate exclusivity in the Residences, which share the 134 bedroom 5-star W Algarve hotel setting, but offer added privacy. The Residences, comprising one to three-bedroom apartments, include duplexes and one four-bedroom penthouse. All the Duplexes have a private pool; all are kitted out with the W signature flair, leaving room for owners to adapt the styling to their tastes. Some Residences have sea views; others survey the local landscapes. The high-end design references the region throughout.

At W Residences Algarve, ownership perks are second to none. Here, hotel-inspired living includes 24-hour service and access to the W Algarve extensive facilities – plus a dedicated residential team. Residents can enjoy in-residence dining, discounts at W Hotel stores, full-service housekeeping, preferential rates at W hotels and more. The Residences boast best-in-class design by world-renowned interior designers AB Concept: high-quality, playful fittings inspired by the beachy region. Seafront views and unparalleled services and amenities are the permanent backdrop for your own private space.

Construction has progressed well and we look forward with great excitement and anticipation to the opening day, expected this summer.

Disclaimer:

W Residences Algarve are not owned, developed or sold by Marriott International, Inc., or its affiliates (“Marriott”). Nozul Algarve, S.A. uses the W® trademarks and trade names under a license from Marriott, which has not confirmed the accuracy of any of the statements or representations made herein. Marriott International and its affiliates are not responsible for the content presented in this website, including but not limited to, any advertising claims, marketing practices, and data collection, use and privacy practices. All artist renderings are for illustrative purposes only and are subject to change without notification.

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